The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work and study from home. If you’re used to going into an office or attending class and studying at school, it may be difficult to adapt and to be productive in this new environment. In addition, the fact that COVID-19 has limited in-person contact in many cases can make working and studying from home even more difficult. Communication, in particular, can become challenging with a lack of face-to-face interaction. There are several positive habits that can help you address the challenges posed by working and studying from home. These habits will ensure you are productive and that your work from home experience does not negatively affect your mental well-being.
Saikiran Bomma Shares the Best Habits for Working or Studying from Home During COVID-19
Saikiran Bomma is a Penn State graduate from Fairfield County, Connecticut. Saikiran graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in biological anthropology. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she spent the last year of her undergraduate studies dealing with pandemic-related restrictions and difficulties. She shares her insight into some of the best habits to establish as a student or employee studying and working at home during COVID-19.
Keep Up Your Morning Routine
Although you’re working or studying from home, you still need to be at your best. One of the most effective positive habits to promote productivity is to start your day as you would if you were going into an office or school. Saikiran Bomma suggests getting up at your usual time, getting dressed, and completing your typical morning routine. By changing out of your pajamas, brushing your teeth, having breakfast, and carrying on with your usual morning routine, you are signaling to yourself (and others) that the workday is about to begin. This can help you focus when you do sit down to start working or studying. It can also signal to others in your household that you are unavailable to them, helping to minimize distractions. In addition to promoting productivity, this positive habit can also benefit your mental health. By maintaining routines like this, you ensure you attend to your personal needs.
Establish a Workspace
You may not have a separate office in your home to use as a workspace and that’s okay. What’s important is that you determine one location in your home that will function as your work area. Electing a single workspace will help you filter out the distractions that can be caused by moving around. As well, be sure to select an area that is as free from distractions as possible. This might be a quiet room or corner where you can be alone to focus. This will help increase productivity. In addition to these helpful benefits, establishing a work area will also help you keep your home and work life separate. The lines between home and work or school can become blurred when you work from home. As Saikiran Bomma can attest, it can become all too easy to work and study around the clock without setting aside time for yourself. By designating a work area, you can signal to yourself, and others, when it’s time to work and when you are free for personal activities. Stepping into your “office” should signal to your brain, and to those that you live with, that it’s time to work. Stepping out when the workday is over signals that you are done for the day, helping you to disengage. You should ask that others be mindful of this and that they try not to interrupt you when you’re “at the office or school.”
End Your Day
Ending your day, much like you would in an office or at school, can also help signal when it’s time to work and when you’re on personal time. Saikiran Bomma suggests shutting down your computer and putting all of your work away to contribute to the feeling that you are done for the day. This will also be helpful to other members of your household by preventing your work from overtaking shared space.
Maintain Your Usual Working Hours
If you work or study from home, continuing to do so during your usual work hours is also a positive habit to get into. This will help you maintain a routine and will contribute to a good work-life balance. By setting work or study hours and sticking to a schedule, you will be able to prevent yourself from intertwining your work or studies with your personal life. Maintaining a positive work-life balance is essential for good mental health, therefore this aspect is extremely important. Saikiran Bomma notes that, although it may be tempting, you should try to avoid attending to personal tasks during your work hours. For example, laundry, cleaning, and other household chores should be done during your personal time. Maintaining this distinction will help you to remain productive during the workday. Holding regular work hours will also help others. Those you live with will know when to expect that you are unavailable and should not be disturbed. As well, if you are working as part of a team, keeping regular hours will help your peers to know when you are available.
Communication is Key
Communication with your team members and peers, as well as those in your household, is extremely important during this time. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many people from interacting face-to-face, we are lucky in that we have many other forms of communication thanks to technology. Communication can become more difficult when it’s not face-to-face. Therefore, you will need to increase your level of communication to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This is especially true if you are working with or are in charge of a team. Check in with your team members regularly to see how they are doing and if they need any help or personal support. Remember, we are all in this together and need to help one another. Communication with those you live with is also important. You should explain to the members of your household that you will be unavailable during working hours, except in an emergency. Saikiran Bomma advises that establishing regular work hours and communicating these hours to your friends and family can be helpful is establishing these boundaries.
Get Out When You Can, Says Saikiran Bomma
Going into an office or to school every day helps us to get outside and into a new environment and allows us to interact with others. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been confined to our homes and asked to socially distance ourselves from our friends and family. This can take quite a toll on one’s mental health. Therefore, whenever possible, try to get out of the house. Being outside, even for a short walk, will help boost your morale and reduce stress and anxiety. If you can, interact with your friends and family as much as possible. If an in-person meeting isn’t feasible, video-calls are a great way to connect. Saikiran Bomma suggests that these positive habits are helpful for maintaining good mental health and staying positive as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.